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Published on May 11, 2023
San Jose (#1), SF (#11) are still among the best places for college grads to look for jobs in 2023 (Report)Job Interview with Golden Gate Bridge Background

Per a report from Gusto and additional information provided to Hoodline by Gusto, San Jose was #1 and San Francisco was #11 in terms of hiring rates. They were #1 and #2, respectively, for average salaries.

In a highly competitive job market, recent college graduates face an uphill battle especially in balancing their desires for excellent starting salaries with the reality of high cost of living in metropolitan areas such as San Francisco and San Jose, which continue to remain popular destinations for young job seekers, despite significant changes to the areas' employment landscapes. According to a recent report from Gusto, San Francisco has an impressive 7.5% hiring rate for 20-24 year-olds with an average salary of $94,000.

San Francisco's neighbor, San Jose, stands at the top with a 9.6% hiring rate and an average starting salary of $102,839 for the same age group, making it the nation's strongest region for the hiring of college graduates, as The Mercury News also reported. The top industry for new graduates in both cities is the software publishers sector, showcasing the importance of the technology sector for job seekers in these regions.


Avr. Hiring
Rate (Gusto)
Metro Average
Hiring Rate
Top Inudstry
for New Graduate
1 San Jose 9.6% $ 102,839 $ 57,580 Software
2 Houston 8.5% $ 60,462 $ 65,648 Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
3 Dallas 8.2% $ 60,559 $ 59,082 Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
4 Nashville 8.1% $ 56,259 $ 57,525 Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
5 New York City 8.0% $ 72,197 $ 31,707 Software

6 Philadelphia 7.9% $ 67,047 $ 64,160 Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
7 Miami 7.9% $ 65,498 $ 54,310 Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
8 Boston 7.9% $ 75,123 $ 50,182 Scientific Research and Development Services
9 Austin 7.8% $ 64,539 $ 63,900 Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
10 Atlanta 7.8% $ 61,524 $ 60,555 Software

11 San Francisco 7.5% $ 94,090 $ 52,682 Software

13 Chicago 7.3% $ 64,487 $ 53,605 Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
12 Washington, DC 7.3% $ 67,383 $ 44,273 Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
14 Los Angeles 7.2% $ 75,379 $ 50,052 Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
15 Denver 7.1% $ 64,583 $ 61,100 Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
16 Seattle 7.0% $ 76,578 $ 51,086 Software

19 San Diego 6.7% $ 76,493 $ 53,231 Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services

Source: Gusto Press Team


Despite the high hiring rates and impressive starting salaries, an analysis from CNBC reveals that job growth is cooling for new college graduates due to certain industries cutting back on college hires, affecting both San Francisco and San Jose areas. For many college students, the reality of post-graduation employment and earning potential is far from their expectations. Aspiring graduates may overestimate their starting salaries by as much as $30,000, only to be met with the harsh reality of high living costs paired with these lower-than-expected incomes, as stated by the CNBC report.

For example, when factoring in the cost of living, Gusto's research shows that the starting wage in San Francisco drops to $52,682, whereas, in San Jose, the cost of living-adjusted salary for recent graduates is only $57,580 but still, it ranks relatively high in the nation. The situation highlights the ongoing challenge young professionals face in balancing career opportunities with living affordability. Even though San Francisco and San Jose appear to have high starting salaries and hiring rates, these cities still have some catching up to do when it comes to addressing the cost-of-living gap for recent college graduates.

Despite these challenges, opportunities in industries such as accommodations, food and beverage, retail, education, healthcare and social assistance continue to show high rates of hiring growth, especially in many non-tech metropolitan areas. The CNBC report suggests that for college graduates looking to maximize their earning potential, adaptability and flexibility in selecting a job location should be top considerations for navigating the complex employment landscape. Referring to Houston as an example, where average starting incomes are stretched the farthest, followed by Philadelphia, Austin, Atlanta, and Dallas, which are also known for offering great value.

Ultimately, finding the optimum balance between a high starting salary and an affordable cost of living remains elusive for many recent college graduates, and is a collective challenge that all cities need to address further. Despite this, San Francisco and San Jose remain among the top cities for new graduates seeking employment, offering them a chance to start their professional lives in some of the most vibrant and innovation-driven metropolitan areas in the United States. As cities around the country continue to expand, opportunities for college graduates are likely to evolve, and with informed choices and adaptability, young professionals can look forward to a bright future.